Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


Spyware Spreaders Settle Suit

FTC levies restrictions, $1.5 million fine on adware distributor

The Federal Trade Commission has lowered the final boom on an online advertising company for misusing adware and spyware in its business practices.

DirectRevenue LLC, which offers Internet advertising services, faces severe restrictions of its activities and a $1.5 million fine, according to a decision and order issued late last week.

One commissioner dissented from the settlement, saying that the $1.5 million penalty wasn't stiff enough. "The $1.5 million... is a disappointment because it apparently leaves DirectRevenue's owners lining their pockets with more than $20 million from a business model based on deceit," said Commissioner Jon Leibowitz.

DirectRevenue and its officers were charged with distributing adware and spyware to users' computers under false pretenses and without their consent. The company used a wide variety of ploys to get users to download the malware, including a free "atomic clock" program, a security warning, and a spurious pop-up blocker that actually caused the user to get more pop-up ads, according to the FTC.

The company also went to some lengths to prevent users from removing the adware and spyware they had installed, according to the FTC complaint. In one case, DirectRevenue delivered code that would automatically reinstall the adware if a user attempted to remove it.

DirectRevenue was responsible for approximately 150 million installs of spyware and adware, representing billions of pop-up ads for users, the FTC said. Although the commission's orders will severely curtail many of the company's business practices, it is still functioning and there are no criminal charges yet pending against its officers.

— Tim Wilson, Site Editor, Dark Reading

Tim Wilson is Editor in Chief and co-founder of Dark Reading.com, UBM Tech's online community for information security professionals. He is responsible for managing the site, assigning and editing content, and writing breaking news stories. Wilson has been recognized as one ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
6 Emerging Cyber Threats That Enterprises Face in 2020
This Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at six emerging cyber threats that enterprises could face in 2020. Download your copy today!
Flash Poll
State of Cybersecurity Incident Response
State of Cybersecurity Incident Response
Data breaches and regulations have forced organizations to pay closer attention to the security incident response function. However, security leaders may be overestimating their ability to detect and respond to security incidents. Read this report to find out more.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
PUBLISHED: 2020-03-31
A path traversal flaw was found in Buildah in versions before 1.14.5. This flaw allows an attacker to trick a user into building a malicious container image hosted on an HTTP(s) server and then write files to the user's system anywhere that the user has permissions.
PUBLISHED: 2020-03-31
Dell EMC iDRAC7, iDRAC8 and iDRAC9 versions prior to,, contain a stack-based buffer overflow vulnerability. An unauthenticated remote attacker may exploit this vulnerability to crash the affected process or execute arbitrary code on the system by sending specially cr...
PUBLISHED: 2020-03-31
Leantime before versions 2.0.15 and 2.1-beta3 has a SQL Injection vulnerability. The impact is high. Malicious users/attackers can execute arbitrary SQL queries negatively affecting the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the site. Attackers can exfiltrate data like the users' and admini...
PUBLISHED: 2020-03-31
Elasticsearch versions from 6.7.0 to 6.8.7 and 7.0.0 to 7.6.1 contain a privilege escalation flaw if an attacker is able to create API keys. An attacker who is able to generate an API key can perform a series of steps that result in an API key being generated with elevated privileges.
PUBLISHED: 2020-03-31
In firmware version 4.50 of Zyxel XGS2210-52HP, multiple stored cross-site scripting (XSS) issues allows remote authenticated users to inject arbitrary web script via an rpSys.html Name or Location field.